West Virginia falls among states in energy efficiency ranking - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

West Virginia falls among states in energy efficiency ranking

Posted: Updated:

West Virginia dropped from number 44 to number 49 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2011, according to the sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released Oct. 3 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  

Massachusetts came in at the top of the ranking for the second year running, followed by California, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

With West Virginia, the five states most in need of improvement are South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota and Mississippi.

Oklahoma rose eight spots among states this year and recognized as among the most improved, the result of policies implemented since Gov. Mary Fallin took office in January 2011.

"As governor, one of my top priorities has been to find ways to help government be more efficient, to be smarter and to try to save money for our taxpayers," Fallin said during the scorecard release event.

A statewide energy plan includes a section on energy efficiency, she said.

Initiatives she listed include a legislative mandate to reduce energy use in state buildings 20 percent by the year 2020; tax credits for energy efficient construction that had been set aside during the recession but have since been reinstated; an information technology program that is reducing energy use throughout state government; energy efficiency programs promoted by the state's electric and natural gas utilities; and a plan to convert the state's vehicle fleet to compressed natural gas.

"How can other states get in on the action?" asked ACEEE senior analyst and the report's lead author, Ben Foster.

They can set statewide energy savings targets, he said. West Virginia's 2013-17 energy plan does not, in its draft version, recommend statewide energy savings targets.

They can improve the regulatory environment for energy efficiency, he said. In one example where improvement is possible, the ACEEE website notes that an effort in West Virginia's 2012 regular legislative session to join other states in establishing an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard setting energy savings targets for utilities failed.

They can adopt updated building codes and ramp up compliance, Foster continued. The section of the draft energy plan that deals with energy efficiency strongly recommends the adoption of updated building codes.

And they can support the use of more efficient systems for generating power. Massachusetts, for example, supports the development of combined heat and power — industrial facilities that generate their own power and achieve high efficiencies by also using the associated heat, but which need the ability to sell excess power to other users — while West Virginia's regulatory system does not allow non-utilities to sell power.

While West Virginia was recognized on the ACEEE website for the fact that the utilities have begun implementing energy efficiency programs, those programs have been criticized for falling far short of those in surrounding states.

ACEEE develops its scorecard based on a detailed database of state energy policies that is maintained by a network of 200 participants in every state that are close to policy development. Weights attached to various policies are be adjusted over time with input from the network. More details are available here.

The scorecard may be found online at http://aceee.org/sector/state-policy/scorecard.

Edited Oct. 3 to correct West Virginia's 2011 ranking from 43 to 44.